Sunday, April 5, 2009

Scuba Diving

A recent wreck dive in the lagoon.

Friday, February 13, 2009


I recently joined the crew of the Pacific Marlin when they went on one of their routine patrols of the BIOT. The mission is fairly simple - mainly a customs check of the few visiting boats in the area and cleanup of some of the islands. Free time was spent snorkeling, reading, and eating (lots). This was my first time away from Diego Garcia in 6 months, so the change was welcome.

Île Poule is one of the smallest in the Salomons, so we were able to pick up all of the sea trash on the beach - mostly flip flops and water bottles.

On Île Poule, Salomon Islands. As it turns out, the mandatory swim test was a good idea - swimming the last 400 meters against the tide with all of the gear was a little hairy.

Post cleanup: Lt Andy Mowat, RN, LT Ben Crowley, USN
Île Sud-Est, Egmont Islands, with the landing party. There was once a coconut plantation, and its ruins can still be seen. Very creepy when exploring alone though.
Chow time. The food served on the ship is deserving of the excellent reputation, but the volume seen here is equally impressive: steak, eggs, sausage, bacon, beans, chips, and a fresh baked dinner roll. I think I blacked out before the apple crisp was served for desert.

Enjoying a few cold ones with the Master and Chief Engineer at end of another great day.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Coconut Plantation

When the boss is away, Branch Health Clinic Officers play. These are pictures from a recent trip out to the plantation that was in operation some time before Diego Garcia became a Naval Support Facility. Many of the buildings in the area have been reduced to little more than their foundations, while others are still in pretty good shape and have been barely touched since they were last used.

On the front steps of the Plantation Managers house

Nothing special here, I just thought the tree was interesting

A cocoanut crab, eating his namesake

Monday, January 5, 2009

Fish Story

As long as I can remember, it has been my profound desire to catch a fish that if mounted, would take up the entire wall and serve as the ultimate trump card to rival any fishing tale. I imagine the kind of Zane Grey fish that takes a hour to wrangle and leaves the victor begging for mercy. That's right, I don't want to catch a fish, I want to angle one. Believe me, I have tried on my fair share of occasions, but the net result has never been much more than a sea bass or grouper. Since coming to Diego Garcia the results have been a little more noteworthy, but even the hearty tug of a Wahoo loses its luster once you've hauled in a few.

So what is a Naval Officer to do? Enter Dave Adams: saltwater fishing expert and credit to our wardroom. This guy has tackle with enough test to suspend a compact car and reels that actually have the same transmissions found in a Big Rig. On top of that, he is my friend, and as we left the lagoon I knew with absolute certainty that this was not a fishing trip, but a hunting expedition...

So here I am, shortly after "fish on" was called. Whatever is on the other end of the line is still diving and the reel is hemorrhaging line, but so far so good - all I am worried about is how we are going to keep 80 lbs. of tuna sashimi cold at the cookout. In retrospect, a pair of gloves and a larger harness might have been a good idea.

After 30 minutes of scrambling and a sore arm, the 7 foot coral shark gave the Filipino crew yet another battle. Now before anyone cries PETA, the surrounding waters are a strictly enforced nature preserve, so we let the monster go. Better luck next time?

Members of the "expedition" proudly pose with...another Wahoo. From left: Liz, Ben, Ryan, Andrew, and Dave (The Great).

Monday, December 1, 2008

Captains Cup

A few of the scenes from the most recent Captains Cup. The required island-wide event takes place on the last Friday of every month and participants earnestly compete for the trophy in a series of field events, hosted by the previous winning command. The November games were hosted by the British Royal Commandos. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of meeting a Commando, I will just say these guys are the real deal: they collectively boast more tatoos per square inch of skin than any other organization in the world and I am glad that they are on my side. Hence, the uncertainty was palpable this month as our British friends prepared the field for the coming events: Dutiful corpsmen dug in deep as high-rise structures were erected, weighted burlap bags tested for appropriate impact, and jousting stirrups fashioned. I even verified our supply of jaw fracture kits for the impending misadventure. In all aspects, our expectations were elevated from the previous Cup hosted by Supply - the Diego Garcia equivalent of Animal House - today there would be no tug of war, no frisbee toss. In the end, the day was a sweeping success and a new bar of excellence was set for competition combining athleticism and barbarism. So there you have it...your tax dollars at work helping the rest of us relax.

This may look more like a scene from MTV Spring Break than an ultimate test of balance and will. But I can assure you this was not taken in March.

Cory and CJ..."working"

Dizzy Kayak Slalom: Spin around the pole 10 times, expectorate remains of breakfast, zig-zag through the cones, hop in the waiting kayak, and navigate the floating buoys. Right up my alley.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Pics

The hair was on loan from "Ginger." We might be approaching the limits of good taste.
Mary Ann, Ginger, Gilligan and the Skipper too.

HM3 Demarais and Demeler. No wonder people have such a hard time keeping these two straight.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Navy Ball

It was a pretty big weekend here on the island. We celebrated the 233rd anniversary of the US Navy in high fashion complete with ceremontial tradition and entertainment galore.